Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal
AUGUSTA - Jim Pinkham pointed to the bruise near his elbow as he explained how he was hurt Friday evening when a Jeep plowed through the wall of his street-level apartment at 36 Water St. and stopped part way into his living room.
Jim Pinkham stands in his shattered apartment on Saturday morning, describing how a vehicle crashed through the wall of his street-level living room at 36 Water St. in Augusta on Friday evening. Pinkham suffered only a bruised arm from flying debris in the accident.
Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal
Pinkham was in his chair watching a movie about 7 p.m. when the crash occurred.
The vehicle took out the window air conditioner, broke the window glass, displaced a post and shattered wallboard.
Pieces of wallboard and wood littered the floor and other furniture Saturday, and Pinkham used a headlamp for light as he sifted through his property. Electricity to Pinkham's apartment had to be cut off as a result of the crash.
"I've got to figure out what I've got to replace," he said. "You'd never know it, but I'm pretty tidy."
A neighbor, Justin Sawyer, stopped by Saturday to ask how Pinkham was faring the day after the crash.
"I saw the vehicle in his house, and I ran in to check on him," Sawyer said. "He was covered in insulation."
Augusta police Sgt. Danny Boivin said the driver, Michael Nicknair, 35, of Augusta, told police he was driving on Water Street when his 1995 Jeep Cherokee began shaking and veered to the left. He said he tried to apply the brakes before the vehicle went into the building.
No charges were filed, and Boivin said it appeared that Nicknair was unhurt.
Kane Coffin, the building's owner, had the hole in the apartment boarded up Friday night.
Pinkham, 52, said he didn't even discover his injury until he went to take a shower at the hotel where he is staying temporarily.
"I was watching TV when it struck, and pieces of furniture flew right in front of my face. I got my arm up in time to prevent something hitting my head," Pinkham said Saturday.
He said he felt "amazingly lucky."
Augusta firefighters evacuated the building briefly after the crash. Occupants of the other apartments were permitted to return later Friday night.
It's the second time in the past four years that Pinkham's apartment has been damaged in a crash.
On the previous occasion, a vehicle struck a stop sign on the Bond Street side of the building. The sign hit Pinkham, then penetrated the building, after which the vehicle also hit the building.
Coffin, who runs Coffin Engineering & Surveying in Chelsea, said Saturday he arranged for repairs and helped Pinkham get temporary housing Friday.
"I had my structural engineer come from home to certify that the second floor wasn't going to fall," Coffin said. He said he expected repairs to take a week or so because this is a holiday weekend.
Along with damaging the exterior wall and living room and contents, the vehicle hit an ornamental lamp post.
Bits of filigree from the lamppost and parts of a vehicle's grill lay in the gutter on Water Street.
Bill Morton, whose apartment is on the second floor just above Pinkham's, said the Jeep was heading north on Water Street when it crossed into the other lane, hit the lamp post and went into the side of the building.
"It was very loud," Morton said. "The whole house shook. Luckily, nobody was hurt or coming from the other direction."
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: